Amazon has opened up its Alexa platform so that anyone – and we mean absolutely anyone – can create a custom Alexa skill. Alexa Skill Blueprints are now available in the US and UK.
Skills are Alexa apps that provide Amazon's assistant with additional features. For instance, there's a popular Jeopardy! skill, which, when enabled, allows Alexa to serve up a trivia game for you to play.
There are tonnes of free skills available in the Alexa skill store. But now, thanks to Amazon's new Alexa Skill Blueprints initiative, you can make your own – and you don't need to be an app developer to do so.
- How to get started with Amazon Echo and Alexa
What are Alexa Skill Blueprints?
Amazon's latest initiative, Alexa Skill Blueprints, essentially allows you to personalise your Alexa experience. You can create your own family trivia game skill, for instance, instead of using the existing Jeopardy! skill or some other trivia skill available.
There is no coding knowledge required, because Amazon's offering "Blueprint templates" that make it easy for you to make an Alexa skill within minutes.
How many templates are available?
At launch, you can browse more than 20 templates across these four categories:
- Fun and Games
- At Home
- Learning and Knowledge
How to create a custom Alexa skill
First, watch these tutorials from Amazon:
Next, follow our step-by-step instructions:
- Visit the Alexa Skill Blueprints website (blueprints.amazon.com), then sign in to your Amazon account hooked up to your Alexa devices, and browse and select a skill Blueprint template that you like. If it's your first time using a template, follow the on-screen tutorial provided.
- There are three sections to a Blueprint template: Content, Experience, and Name. Each one comes with pre-filled content that can be used as-is or customised, meaning you can edit the examples or add your own. You can go back to a skill at any time to edit it or add more content.
- Once you're done editing the content and experience, name your skill and then click Next: Create skill. Your custom skill will then be ready to use in minutes on all Alexa devices associated with your Amazon account. Just ask Alexa to open your new skill.
We also have a gallery here that walks you through the process:
How to use a custom Alexa skill
If you named your custom skill, "John's Birthday", you can just say, "Alexa, open John's Birthday skill." If it's a trivia skill, Alexa will open the skill and start asking you the trivia questions that you've added to the skill. If it's a story skill, you'll hear the story you added, etc.
Are there example custom skills?
Yep. Watch these promo videos from Amazon for examples on custom skills you can create:
- Amazon Alexa calling and messaging: What is it and how do you use it?